Fun at Marine Fest is spreading

The fun at Marine Fest is spreading.

The fun at Marine Fest is spreading.

The street fair in downtown Nanaimo returns with pancakes, bouncy castles and racing waiters.

Commercial Street will be filled with a carnival atmosphere Friday and Saturday (July 22-23), as merchants bring their wares to the sidewalk and entertainment roams the closed street.

The street fair opens at 9 a.m. with a pancake breakfast from the Cedar Lions and a magic show. It’s the start of a day filled with music and children’s entertainment.

“We’re hoping people will explore the downtown area while they’re here,” said Mark Corbett, Downtown Nanaimo BIA spokesman.

The mainstage near Terminal Avenue on Commercial features performances by Nanaimo Concert Band, Naked Grapes, Alli Sunshine and the Blue Sparrows, and more. A Kids Zone features bouncy castles and a fun swing, a small carnival ride set up in Diana Krall Plaza.

Long-time residents may remember the Egg Toss and Waiter’s Race contest, which return this year.

The street fair was discontinued several years ago, but urging and hard work from downtown merchants, including Bonnie Butler of Island Smoke Shop, saw the event return.

The street fair is intended to complement the activities at Maffeo Sutton Park, said Corbett.

The park is ground zero for the Marine Festival and features music at Lions Pavilion, food vendors and the traditional Bavarian Garden (for a schedule of entertainers, please see our What’s On calendar).

In addition to their safety duties on the water during Sunday’s Bathtub Race, the Canadian Forces will have four ships – HMCS Nanaimo, Brandon, Edmonton and Whitehorse – on display at the cruise ship terminal. HMCS Nanaimo will be open to the public 1-4 p.m. Saturday.

Also on Saturday, a 442 Squadron Cormorant helicopter from CFB Comox will perform a demonstration at noon and army reserve units will have displays and recruiting booths in the park.

The 5th Field Regiment Artillery will mark the official start of Sunday’s race by firing their 105 mm Howitzer.

The Sail Past on Wheels Fun Parade winds down Fitzwilliam Street to Bastion Street and proceeds along Front Street, beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The parade features the 100th anniversary of St. John Ambulance as its theme.

Saturday’s festivities wrap up with the Quality Foods Festival of Light, the annual fireworks display over Nanaimo Harbour, beginning at about 10 p.m.

Departure Bay beach, the finish line for the Great Race on Sunday, will also have displays, activities for kids and food vendors.

For more information, please visit